To be upfront, bookstores and libraries, I think, are absolutely essential in our society. There’s just a one-of-a-kind wonder of stepping into a store filled with books, magazines, comics, manga, and plenty of space to read. Libraries are doubly as important since that’s not only a repository of books, but acts as a community hub. Activities, games, computers, reference material, teen and children sections. Seriously, walking into a bookstore is magical.
Last weekend, Barnes & Noble put out a new policy where fewer hardcover books will be stocked, only promoting the biggest authors at the forefront. Paperbacks will still remain, but readers have to look elsewhere for the latest paperback if that’s their preference.
I can understand pulling back on hardcovers given how costly they tend to be, but for many authors (ones with a publisher, really) this hurts their profits a lot. Most authors go hardcover first before releasing in paperback years later. Without that early push, publishers might not give them a chance.
There’s Amazon and smaller bookstores, but Barnes and Noble have become top dog with physical booksellers. Even with places like Target and Walmart, they have a slim selection of hardcovers. The variety is what differentiates them and why B&N remains top tier in the book-selling business.
And let’s not forget how this not only affects smaller and first-time authors but especially POC authors as well. This especially targets them and it needs to be brought to the forefront hard.
POC unfortunately don’t have that super bestseller that white authors tend to have. I’m happy to walk into a B&N and see people like Kwame Mbalia, Yoon Ha Lee, Sayantani Dasgupta, Nnedi Okorafor, Angie Thomas, June Cl Tan, and that’s just a few off the top of my head. But without that bookstore presence, getting that showcase spot will be an uphill battle.
Mind you, this isn’t a “POC need to try harder” comment. It’s a “POC need to be given a chance in the first place.”
This also suggests that the already successful authors can be secure while the rest of us, especially debut authors, remain in an endless struggle to be noticed at all.
This change is too limiting. I really hope B&N change their minds on this one. I get that the big names can shine, but newer authors need that chance as well. I notice this a lot no matter the industry. Mainly a lack of new talent getting into the world out of fear that the tried and true will miss out on a royalty check or two. It’s yet another barrier to overcome, and if more like this appear, new talent will be impossible to find.
Anywho, that’s my take on this whole policy change from Barnes and Noble. My hope is that with enough public outcry, they’ll revert their ways. You can still buy books, even from POC authors there, but do voice your concerns when and however you can.
That’s all for today. If you liked this article and want more from Silver Claw, check out my Patreon where I have all sorts of perks. Moonlight Blade is coming soon. Of course, the story will be free here for everyone over the coming weeks. Patrons, however, will get the full story early this fall, with Chapters 1 and 2 being released for everyone.
That’s all for today. Safe travels, adventurer.